Free Sample Essays on 1911 Chinese Revolution

Why was there a revolution in 1911?

The 1911 Xinhai Revolution in China was the result of a popular uprising that ended the Qing Dynasty. As one examines this question, it is hard to ignore the immediate similarities in the result of the revolution in China to the 1917 revolution in Russia. The comparisons begin when the revolution in China overthrows their monarchist government similar to the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas. Additionally, both of these revolutions were the catalysts for a civil war shortly after. However, a slight difference that can be seen is that the Xinhai revolution was led by the peasant population while the Russian revolution was fought by the working class otherwise the two are identical. As one would analyse the small difference between the revolutions, they would have to consider what led the peasant population to their dissatisfaction. These stimulants were foreign intervention, increased corruption, and lack of governmental action/unsuccessful reforms.

Firstly, a stimulant for the Xinhai Revolution was the increasing foreign intervention in China. Before the 19th century, Western involvement in China was very limited and this limitation was soon erased after the discovery of opium. Shortly after 1815, American and British companies began smuggling the drug into China resulting in an addition problem for a large amount of the population. This not only caused a serious addiction epidemic but the lack of sovereignty was a new feeling for China, leaving them powerless as they had no control over what was occuring. At first, China tolerated the importation of Opium because it increased indirect taxes on Chinese goods, ultimately increasing the European demand for Chinese goods. However, soon their control and tolerance diminished as demand for Opium grew and took over the stability of society. The addiction that the population suffered to the narcotic was blamed on the Qing dynasty which increased their negative feelings towards them; in an attempt to end the first Opium War of 1839 a treaty was made between Britain and China in order to discontinue opium trade. It was the beginning of the series of agreements that are called unequal treaties as China believes that Britain had no obligations in return for receiving Hong Kong, a ‘reasonable’ tariff on Chinese goods, and an indemnity. Also, as the reputation of the once dominant Qing Dynasty began to depreciate in 1900 the Boxer Rebellion was an anti-foreign occupation, well-supported peasant uprising which was the result of the unequal treaties. Ultimately, the Boxer Rebellion was the strongest attempt in saving their sovereignty but it failed by the military cooperation of multiple countries.

Furthermore, the increased corruption in China resulted in increased levels of hatred against the Qing Dynasty and warranting the peasants to form a rebellion. Corruption in China today is not a new issue, as it dates back to the 19th century. As the corruption were high enough to begin affecting the peasant population and forcing the government to provide additional income as a bribe to lead the corrupt officials against corruption. This additional income led to governmental financial struggles, resulting in an increased tax rate which angered the population. An increased tax rate means that most of the working class can manage but the lower class of the population will be ultimately harmed economically as they can no longer afford a standard living. The harsh taxing caused immediate revolts within the state as the breakdown of law and order became inevitable for the government to contain.

Lastly, the final cause for the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 are the unsuccessful reforms of the Qing government. An example of a very upsetting policy is the Hundred Days Reform, it was a failed 103 day national, cultural, political, and educational reform movement from 11 June to 21 September 1898. This occurred shortly after the Chinese were defeated in the Sino-Japanese war in 1894-95, while the purpose for the reform was aimed at modernizing and bettering the Chinese social system. This reform was their most notable fail and can be seen as a trigger to the revolution causing the peasants to be exhausted with the lack of proper response to the country’s needs. This attempt at pacifying the public was rushed and a form of panic as a last resort in trying gain the population’s respect. This reform also was the spark plug for a coup d'etat led by Cixi the empress dowager who was backed by the military, imprisoning emperor Guangxu. This attack on corruption, traditional education system, and the army threatened those of the upper class. This internal coup led to an increased lack of trust and faith in the stability of the government and didn’t fail to add insult to injury with the poor quality of infrastructure. With all this going on, the government had failed to address this as a serious issue, angering the peasant population and stirring a revolt.

All in all, in 1911 the Xinhai revolution consisted of the accelerated depreciation of the power of the Qing Dynasty. With the help of foreign intervention, increased corruption within the upper class, and unsuccessful or poor reforms as an attempt to appease the peasant population. These factors played an increased role to the start of the revolution.


Why was there a revolution in 1911?          

In October of 1911, a group of revolutionaries in the south of China led a successful revolt against the Qing dynasty, in its place establishing the Republic of China and abolishing the imperial system. This historical event would come to be referred to as the Chinese revolution or the Xinhai revolution. The Chinese populations’ discontent with the intervention of the west in Chinese affairs, especially Britain, had surfaced once before in 1899 when the anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian “Boxers” attempted to violently overthrow the Qing Dynasty. The failure of this led to the further weakening of the Qing Dynasty and the Chinese economy as well as the continued interference of the west, paving the road for a further, stronger rebellion. Thereby, the reasoning behind the revolution in 1911 can be reduced to three causes; Foreign Intervention, failed constitutional reforms and weak governmental rulers.

Leading up to 1911, the Qing dynasty had endured not only the Boxer revolt in 1899 but also multiple wars with the very European countries intervening in China during the Chinese revolution of 1911. The two Opium wars against the western powers, led by Great Britain, resulted in the loss of Honk Kong. China was forced to open “treaty ports” such as Shanghai for international trade and China was divided into spheres of influence among the European powers. After its loss in the Sino-Japanese war, Imperial China was forced to forfeit even more of its territory, losing Taiwan, Korea and parts of Manchuria. As the Chinese opinion was disregarded in these negotiations, this, understandably, spawned a great deal of resentment in the Chinese people. The Qing Dynasty served as a scapegoat in this situation as their rule was hardly affected by the western take-over, moreover, the Dynasty had European support against the incurring revolutions. Though the support aided in upholding the regime, hatred towards the Manchu among the Chinese population grew.

The Manchu family suffered from this hatred and could not let it continue. To counteract this, in 1898, China’s emperor introduced new reforms during the so-called hundred days of reform. These reforms, had they succeeded, may have led to China becoming a more modern state by introducing new schools and new colleges as well as removing corrupt government officials. A rebellion from above, held at court, led by emperor Guangxu’s aunt led to the current emperor’s imprisonment. His aunt opposed the reforms and they were never introduced. It is however very simplistic to attribute the cause for the revolution to the failed building of schools and colleges, had the reforms passed, it may have delayed the following rebellions by a year or two. The inherent reason for the revolution in 1911 was the injustice inflicted upon the Chinese people for the past 3 centuries and during the preceding Ming Dynasty. Within the massive Chinese population, there would always be those seeking a more constitutional hierarchy.

Having already highlighted events preceding the 1911 revolution, it is vital to mention the reasoning behind the exact time at which the revolution started. Pu Yi was the twelfth and last emperor of china from 1908 until his forced abdication in 1912. Pu Yi was born in 1906, meaning he was 2 years old when he was named emperor. The revolutionaries took advantage of the political and economic decline China suffered during this time. Even preceding Pu YI, leadership toward the end of the Manchu Dynasty was weak. Through the abolishing of the civil service examinations Chinas central power was weakened, as this gave more political power to Chinese elites who passed elaborate exams on the Chinese texts originating before the imperial unification, particularly the “Four books and Five classics” of the Neo Confucian tradition.

In conclusion it can be said that the 1911 revolution was only unique in the sense that it succeeded. The social and political situation in China throughout the 19th century sent china into a downward spiral bound to end in revolution. The failures of the Qing family in reforms, international relations and leadership in the decade leading up to the Xinhai revolution merely gave the Chinese people the necessary justification for their revolt.

Why was there a revolution in China in 1911?

China has always viewed itself as the “middle kingdom” those that have no need for outsiders and a strong sense of pride. It has existed as the longest standing civilization to ever be formed, and from its outset had been ruled by a monarchical system. So why did a civilization that had lasted for millennia, in relative isolation and stagnation suddenly endure a revolution that would overthrow the Qing Dynasty that had reigned for hundreds of years? To answer this question one must first understand the intricacies of Chinese culture and History. This essay will argue that although centuries of foreign exploitation in China certainly aided in the start of the Xinhai Revolution, it was in the end a result of Chinese culture and the inability of the Qing government to modernize or reform that caused the 1911 revolution.

            It is is generally argued that China’s 1911 revolution occurred because of the presence of foreigners in the country. China had been continually exploited by western powers during its existence. In 1838 the British forced an opium war on the Chinese to fund colonial India essentially selling drugs to many Chinese laborers and crippling the Chinese workforce. Not only this but China had also been drawn up into legation cities where foreigners had almost complete rule. Key financial provinces such as Qingdao and Hong Kong were used by Germany, France, England and Russia for their own economic gain. This was the main factor in the 1900 Boxer rebellion in which the Chinese Boxers rose up against the foreign ‘occupiers’. The punishment for the revolt were the severe imposition of ‘unequal treaty terms’ that carved even more land away from China, and subsequently the Qing Dynasty. Wang Ke-Weng writer of Modern China argues this as one of the many reasons for the amplified resentment of imperialism in China and the subsequent revolution in 1911. In addition to this, the loss of the 1900 Boxer rebellion against an arguably weaker enemy inspired no trust in the people for the ruling Qing Dynasty. In fact the people viewed this as among other things as the continuation of a “Century of Humiliation” by foreign powers. Paul A. Cohen, author of China Unbound argues that this oppression by foreign powers was the main reason for the occurrence 1911 Xinhai revolution. Chinese historians such as Wang Ke-Weng would argue that the Chinese people instead sustained a culture of self-sufficiency and cultural superiority, and ergo would never be content with foreign intervention.
The spirit of self-sufficiency had been an omnipotent presence in China since its creation, it believes it needed no interaction with outsiders due to its abundance within its borders. This is exemplified by Ambassador McCartney’s visit to Qinlong ruled China in 1793 to secure a trade deal between the two nations. McCartney was rejected by the Emperor on the basis that “[they] lacked no produce within [their] borders” and that they would not import from “barbarians”. This event is highly important, as it exemplifies the Chinese philosophy on outside intervention. It presents a succinct view of the Chinese attitude to foreigners and why the constant Humiliation of China by foreign powers lit the spark on the powder keg for the 1911 revolution.

            The decline of the Qing and the subsequent Xinhai revolution in 1911 from a western viewpoint can be summarized through an analysis of the faminal issues in tangent with the inability to modernize China. Mary Wright cites the September 12th 1911 crop catastrophe that put 3 million people in Central China at the risk of starvation as one of the causes that caused loss of faith in the Qing’s ability to properly look after its people. The infamous failure of the 100 days reform in 1898 and the Qing governments lack of capital to reform the pitiful state of the Chinese railroad system certainly also put a damper in the people's confidence in their Government.
However it is argued by Professor Joan Judge, a Historian specializing in China and its cultural nuances that the representation of the 1911 Xinhai Revolution is mired in many western tropes of “Dynastic Decline” such as failures to modernize. She notes however that through the reading of Shibao’s text (a cultural parallel to the rebellious nature of the chinese) that one of the major factors of the Qing Dynasty’s expulsion in 1911 was their ignorance towards the “People” of China. A key example would be the Nationalisation of China’s railroads, despite the presence of “numerous railway movements” pushing for greater local autonomy and preservation of national rights. This is a key factor to the dissent that culminates in the 1911 revolution, as one of Sun Yat Sen's Three Principles of the People of which the Revolution is arguably based off of was “People”.

            Already a collapse in the Confucianist philosophy that the people had so long held dear can be seen. To respect the hierarchy, and to abide by social roles, this facade was collapsing in front of the Qing Dynasty, as it would with the Czar in 1917. The people no longer saw the Queen as the “divine majesty” appointed to this Earth to guide the Chinese people, yet saw her as an incompetent puppet of the foreigners. However as Judge notes, many of the lower class citizens were not as impactful as one would think, yet the middle class were the ones pulling most of the weight. With the 1911 financial crisis in China the Qing Dynasty came under increasing pressure from the middle classes, who using “Shibao” journalism spouted passionate rhetoric of the potential modernisation of China to the people. This would cause many to become ultimately upset with the Qing and create even more resentment that would erupt in the 1911 revolution.

In conclusion, the Xinhai revolution in 1911 occured due to the cultural collapses in the confucionist hierarchy, the cultural spirit of self-sufficiency in tangent with the Qing dynasty’s inability to modernize combined with their apathy towards their own people causing unrest and discontent. In addition to the presence of foreign ‘oppressors’ creating a second Africa in China. This unrest and resentment created by the collapse of the Qinq and the presence of foreigners in tangent with cultural factors created the reasons for the revolution in 1911.

On the 10th October 1911, the Wuchang Uprising began the Xinhai Revolution that led to the abdication of the final Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Puyi, in February 1912. For nearly 300 years, since Hong Taiji became the first Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, China had been under the control of a single family, leading to the question of why there was a revolution in 1911, and as with the Romanov’s what led to their collapse after holding power for so long? This essay will argue that foreign intervention into China’s politics, the weakness of the Qing rulers to lose control of the military, and failure of the reforms were what caused the revolution in 1911.

At the beginning of the 19th Century, the British Empire was in need of financial gain to continue financing their rule over India, and saw Qing China, a nation with a population of 400 million, the same size as the entire British Empire, as a prospective market. Upon realising this, the western nations began placing pressure on China to open up trade between their nations. However, since the Chinese were very proud of their ability to be self-sufficient they were not open to rely on trade with the west and therefore were only willing to open one port at Kwangtung, which resulted in the west forcing the Manchu rulers to sign an unequal treaty in 1842, giving the British control of Shanghai and Hong Kong, and other parts of China to the Russians, French, and Germans. This led to a division between the foreigners and the Chinese, thus creating tension that eventually resulted in the Boxer Rebellion in 1901, where 200 westerners were killed, thus providing them an opportunity to demand compensation, totalling to around £67 million as well as the right to place troops in Peking and 11 other major cities within China. The issue with this, is that it proved that the Manchu rulers were not in control of their own country and were pawns under the western powers. Ultimately, this inability to defend themselves against the foreigners resulted in the unequal treaties of 1842, causing the Boxer rebellion in 1901, and finally led to further economic and political losses, leaving the Qing Dynasty with a bad reputation and little political power, resulting in the Xinhai revolution in 1911.

Although it can be argued that the 1911 revolution was caused by foreign intervention into China’s politics, a more instrumental argument would be the weakness of the Qing emperor. Within China, the Qing emperor held absolute power, and therefore the country was only able to run efficiently if their emperor was capable of doing so. However, throughout the 19th century, there was an increasing pattern of incapable Manchu leaders, and without an able leader, political power could no longer be centralised in Peking. This became a more prominent issue after the Taiping rebellion between 1850 and 1864, as the Qing emperor created regional armies to overpower the rebellion, since the Eight Banners had become increasingly weaker and a new means of defence was necessary. However, the problem that occurred as a result of creating the regional armies is that they were financed by local money and obeyed provincial officials. Since the Qing emperors had become increasingly weaker and was dispersing power to the individual provincial officials, it gave them such power that they began to surpass that of the Qing emperor. When the Wuchang uprisings occurred, few provincial officials were willing to counter the rebellion since it would require financial aid on their behalf and they were not willing to offer this level of support to their ruler. This ultimately is what resulted in the 1911 revolution as the Qing emperor had little control over the regional armies and therefore had no military support against the Wuchang uprising.
Finally, the fundamental argument that can explain the cause of the 1911 revolution would be the failure of the reforms that were introduced during the Qing Dynasty. Such reforms included the Late Qing reform and the Hundred Days reform, where China attempted to create western style schools, a new judicial system, and the implementation of a local and regional police force. However, Empress Dowager Cixi was strongly against the idea of the reforms, and therefore did not fully support the reformation efforts. As well as this, China did not have the financial capability to fulfil these plans and began to heavily rely on the sales of government posts. This is how wealthy merchants in China began to acquire government roles, which resulted in high rates of corruption within the government. The high ranking officials would often receive bribes from the low ranking officials, allowing them to gain wealth from the government funds. This resulted in increased taxes to support the reforms, but due to the corruption of the government, this money ended up in the pockets of the government officials rather than going to modernise China in industry, economics, and military strength as these reforms had initially been intended for. The failure of these reforms encapsulated to the people that the Qing government was corrupt and prioritised self-gain over the interests of the country. This bitter feeling towards the Qing government can be compared to the Soviets in Russia, 1917, where overthrowing the provisional government through a revolution would allow the nation to have peace, or in China, to make the reforms happen and modernise China to become the nation they were striving for.

In conclusion, it can be determined that although foreign intervention and weak leadership were vital to the cause of the 1911 revolution, it was ultimately the failure of the reforms from the corrupt government that turned the people to support the revolution as a means of improving China to become the modernised nation that their western invaders were able to have.

Why was there a revolution in China in 1911?
As a member of the British Commonwealth, I as an Australian tend to view history from the British perspective: that Western interference was the best thing that happened to seemingly inferior countries such as China. However, this is actually not the case at all, as what was achieved by this interference was the transformation of a self-sufficient empire into a colony that could be exploited by all manner of western countries. Therefore, this essay will argue that it was the Western interference in China during the 19th and 20th Century that led to the Xinhai revolution in 1911.
Western interference in China had begun as far back as the 13th Century. However, it was the British importation of Opium that commenced the Western exploitation. The Qing dynasty had already had a history with Opium, since the Portuguese had smuggled it into the country in the early 18th century. Therefore, when the British East India Company began to trade this drug for Chinese silk, porcelain and tea in 1773 the Qianlong Emperor knew that it would have horrible consequences on his country, but could do nothing to stop it. Soon other countries joined in the trade, such as the US. When the opium trade began to affect not just the workers, but also the military and upper-class, the Daoguang Emperor began what is now known as the First Opium War from 1839 to 1842. This war demonstrated to the Chinese that the Westerners would never truly respect their empire, since they were willing to go to war with China over an obvious exploitation of the country, instead of considering them a potential ally. This also marked the period where China first discovered that their previous sense of cultural superiority meant that they were not nearly as advanced as the West, since they did not see the importance of being considered ‘developed’ and hence were no match for the power of Britain. This lack of advancement lost them the war. The Treaty of Nanking, the peace treaty signed on 29th of August 1842, was the first of many so-called ‘Unequal Treaties’ that China was forced to sign. These ‘Unequal Treaties’ gave the Western Power privileges in China without being forced under any obligations themselves. Perhaps a good indication of how Chinese people felt about this is seen in ancient Chinese poetry. One particular piece is called “Seven Steps Verse” by Cáozhí, and is based on a younger brother appealing to the older one’s sense of guilt.
“Lighting the bean stalk to boil the beans,
and of this the beans thus wailed:
“Borne are we of the same root;
should you now burn me with such disregard?””
If it is put in context of China in the 19th Century, the parallels can be seen. As the younger brother, China believes itself to be condemned to being ‘boiled’, and appeals to the Western sense of humanity. However, the sense of disregard does not change, and the ‘Unequal Treaties’ continue. This poem also brings into light the way that the Westerners view the Chinese. In a French political cartoon entitled “China – the cake of Kings and Emperors”, the Chinese man in the background looks barbaric and inhuman. This reflects the view that the West had of China: less than human, and thus a country that can be exploited without any ethical or moral implications. Both the disregard demonstrated through the opium wars and ‘Unequal Treaties’, and the dehumanising way that the west was portraying the Chinese led to growing resentment of foreign interference and increased sense of nationalism. It is these that resulted in the people uprising against an empire that had throughout the 19th Century not been able to deal with increasing Western interference. Therefore, the opium war is one of the reasons for the 1911 Chinese revolution occurring.
Western interference in China was not without hindrance. As the amount of ‘Unequal Treaties’ increased and the Western oppression of China became obvious, the Chinese became increasingly angry. In 1900, this anger manifested into the Boxer Rebellion. In the late 1890’s, a group called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists (nicknamed by Westerners as the Boxers due to their methods of training) had begun to attack foreigners and Chinese Christians, as they blamed them for their poor standards of living and the famine in their home, the Shandong province. On the 20th of June, 1900, after these attacks had spread to Beijing, the Boxers began a siege on the capital’s foreign district. At first hostile to the Boxers due to the aggressive way that they went about purging the country, the Emperor Dowager Cixi began to support the efforts of the Boxers when she realised that they were China’s best hope of removing foreign exploitation. That the Dowager actually supported the Boxers, a group of peasants who had a very small chance against the force of Western and foreign arms, really demonstrates how desperate the Chinese had become to remove those who had humiliated them, exploited them and treated them unfairly. Unfortunately, the 1900 Boxer rebellion ended in defeat for the Chinese on the 14th of August, when around 20,000 foreign troops arrived in Beijing to recuse the foreign hostages and seize control of the capital once again. This defeat only served in adding to the anger that the Chinese felt towards Western interference, and allowed the people to become desperate enough to overthrow an Empire that was failing to evade foreign exploitation in the 1911 revolution.
However, it was not just Western interference in China that caused the 1911 revolution. The First Sino-Japanese War may actually have had more of an impact on the anger of the Chinese towards foreigner and their Empire than any Western country. In 1876, Japan negotiated a treaty with Korea, a country previously closed to all insiders except for the ‘superior’ empire of China. Following an uprising in Korea against King Kojong and Queen Min due to anger over the signing of this treaty, China intervened in the country to stop the revolution from being successful by arresting the offending leader. The actions of both China and Japan in subsequent years led to revolts and unrest in Korea as well as the 1885 treaty that stated that both interfering countries would withdraw troops from Korea and send notice to the other if they in any way needed to send troops back in. However, even with this treaty, agitations between the countries continued to rise, and both Japan and China entered troops into Korea. On the 20th of July 1894, Japan seized control of the Korean government, and China retaliated, beginning the Sino-Japanese War on the 1st of August 1894. Unfortunately for China, the war ended in defeat with the Chinese Navy sunk at the bottom of the ocean and China once again humiliated by a foreign power. This humiliation only grew more profound following the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki on the 17th of April 1895, ending the war and giving the Japanese power over China. What makes this treaty more impactful to the Chinese regarding their dislike for the foreigners than the actions of the Western countries are the similar origins of Japan and China. In the 19th Century Japan was even more backward a country, and went through a similar exploitation as China. However, in an effort to make the West see them as equals, Japan underwent a rapid Westernisation and, when their resources were deemed not enough to continue developing, became one of the world’s leading imperialistic countries by the late 19th Century. China, which is geographically far larger and was not nearly as willing to Westernise, became a victim of the ambition of Japan. That the Qing Dynasty could not defend the country from a nation that China once thought of as inferior to their own caused the people to become increasingly hostile to the Empire, hence being another reason for the 1911 revolution.
The Xinhai revolution was caused by foreign interference in China through the Opium Wars, the subsequent Boxer Rebellion and the Sini-Japanese. All of these events, when seen from the Chinese perspective, provide evidence for the fact that Western ideals are not always the best, and that through history one can see the way in which man would treat their fellow man: with contempt, indifference and greed.

Why was there a revolution in China in 1911?

Although a lot of parallels can be drawn between the Russian and the Chinese revolution Lenin would not have approved the one against the Qing ruler ship as it was spontaneous and not coordinated from above creating the decisive difference which will be examined. After China had been isolationist and ruled by the Qing dynasty for 295 years change no longer came fast enough in the 20th century leading to a revolution which replaced the monarchy with the Republic of China in 1911. This essay will argue that the revolution was caused by lacking domestic reforms, the weakening of China’s position in relation to international powers, spontaneous actions taken by the Qing leadership.
Due to the fact that China was able to rely on itself for so long not a lot of change was necessary in the country to sustain a working community. This meant that living towards the end of the Qing rule was similar to living at the start of their rule. This was not a problem as long as it was impossible to compare living standards to any other society however with the introduction of other powers the Chinese realised that they were far behind similar to Russia under the Tsar’s rule. 1998 marked the year during which one of the first major reforms in China was issued by the Guangxu Emperor. These referred to political and social reforms to occur in the course of 100 days. Only ten days after these reforms were issued the Dowager Empress, with the help of soldiers, removed Guangxu from his position and thus reversed all the reforms. In addition, six reformists are beheaded. This response to reform was typical to Chinese beliefs as expressed by Confucius who dictated that order could only be sustained if the powerful are respected and the hierarchy is not questioned. After being severely pressured by the leaders of the individual provinces the Qing government finally considers constitutional reforms in 1906. With this promise standing the Empress can once again relax slightly however passing away in 1908. After five years a first constitutional cabinet is finally unveiled. This however fails to fulfil its purpose, being similar to the Duma’s created in Russia, as it mainly consists of royalty thus proving useful. Instead of soothing the situation in 1911 however this ignited further protests as it was not accepted as actual reform causing an uneasy situation in China. As the government had failed on several occasions to provide reforms the population was ready to topple the government in order to re- new their country which by then was far backwards.
While previous to relations with the West China had viewed itself as the centre of the world this picture crumbled with several humiliating defeats. The first humiliation occurred in 1842 with Britain’s introduction of Opium into China. China unable to counter Britain’s strength was forced to give in, leading to an increased presence of British troops and trading in China. This was especially humiliating as China had previously not relied on trade with other nations as they possessed all necessary goods to sustain the empire however with the introduction China was tied to Britain due to their control of opium sails. First signs of resistance to the dynasty were present shortly after this first opium war with the Taiping rebellion which started in 1951 and developed into a civil war which questioned the Qing’s heavenly rule for the first time. The next humiliation came with the second Opium and the following Unequal Treaties. These gave westerners extrajudicial rights. However, they also meant that opium would be legalised and missionaries were allowed to enter China. With this series of humiliations, the people no longer saw the Qing dynasty as their mighty protectors but rather as weak and submissive to Western powers. The worst of all defeats however came in 1895 when China is defeated by Japan after just seven months of fighting. Similar to Russia’s defeat to the Japanese the Chinese were unable to grasp how they were able to lose to people who were supposedly inferior to them. China had always seen itself as Japan’s cultural and intellectual fathers and yet now they were defeated by them. This once again lead to unsuccessful uprisings in the form of the Boxer Rebellion in which were even supported by the Dowager Queen. The uprising was aimed to free China from the oppressive Western Powers. Far from succeeding however this uprising was crushed once Western Armies entered the conflict. The effects of this uprising were that China was forced to pay reparations which summed up to about 61 billion dollars. Seeing that a once strong and independent China was humiliated so often and in such a limited time period resulted in the populations readiness to join a revolution aimed to overthrow the government and once again create a strong China.
The revolution was however unlike the Russian Revolution ignited not by a person but rather by and event which caused uncoordinated uprisings against the power in place. The cause of the series of uprisings which occurred at the start of May 1911 was the order to nationalise several privately owned railways. These rail networks had been locally funded and thus belonged to private donors. The government in Beijing was however in dire need of money to pay off part of the reparations imposed after the Boxer Rebellion. In response to the announcement several of the investors called for strikes which quickly spread throughout provinces. The Qing’s decision to send in the army to break up strikes only worsened the situation and lead to several deaths. Thus the army was withdrawn and the several regional governors replaced to calm down the situation. At this point it was however too late. Large parts of the army were convinced reformists and when these interacted with adamant students and workers to from strong coalitions opposing the government. These groups were forced to react when one of their ammunition storages blew up resulting in the Double Ten seizure of regional government by revolutionists in 1911. This ignited revolutions in other regions finally resulting in the topple of the Qing rule. With the return of the revolutionary figure Sun Yixian who had planned revolution abroad for about 15 years the first provisional government meeting was held in December 1911. This shows that the actual revolution was triggered by chance, first the call to nationalise rail networks, and then the explosion of an ammunition storage forcing revolutionists to react. 
Overall it can be seen that the Chinese Revolution in 1911 was triggered by the lacking reforms, the humiliation of China by foreigners, and actual events occurring throughout 1911. With the revolution the ruling Qing dynasty was expelled however the population had to choose between the elected president Sun Yixian and the self-proclaimed president Yuan Shikai who was former prime minister.


The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 was the result of a decades-long decay of the Qing dynasty, made evident by its numerous defeats at the hands of foreign powers, most notably Britain and Japan, as well as its antiquated economic system, coupled with incompetent and weak leaders. In some respects, the 1911 revolution was simply the culmination of century-long opposition to the Qing dynasty of China, which in itself was not of ethnic Han stock. This essay will therefore argue that the Xinhai revolution was the culmination of a decay that had started decades before the revolution itself.
The first reason for the outbreak of the 1911 revolution was China’s defeats and loss of sovereignty at the hands of foreign power, which gave the Chinese people the impression that China’s Manchu dynasty was unable to preserve independence and protect the nation. China’s humiliating defeat following the First Opium War in 1842 forced them to sign the Treaty of Nankking – the first of the “unequal treaties”, which humiliated the Chinese people and decisively damaged China’s power and sovereignty. The Treaty of Nanking most notably included the cession of Hong Kong and the imposition of a fixed tariff – China would not regain tariff autonomy until the 1920s. The Second Opium War heralded yet again another Chinese defeat and the ravaging of the Chinese capital at Beijing by British and French forces, in which the Summer Palace was burnt down. Finally, China’s defeat at the hands of the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1985 was a mortal blow to China’s national pride and sovereignty: China had lost Korea as a tributary state and regional power in East Asia for the first time in history shifted from China to Japan. The Manchu defeat sparked unprecedented public outcry in China, making China’s failure to modernize its military and fend off threats to its sovereignty evident. Recognizing the importance of China’s foreign defeats in bringing down the Manchu dynasty is vital; the Chinese people could no longer put their faith in the Manchu government to protect them from foreign threats or to guarantee China’s sovereignty to its citizens. China’s series of defeats were dubbed the “century of humiliation” by the Chinese people and a concept that is still kept in vivid memory in China today. Parallels can also be drawn to the fall of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet Union in its place; the military reversals experienced by the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 and its devastating defeat in WW1 by the Central Powers, had showed the Russian people that Russia was a backward, rural state that lagged behind its industrialized rivals. In the same way that Stalin industrialized the USSR in the Five-Year-Plans, Sun Yat-sen’s “Three Principles” introduced industrialization and modernization to China. The devastating and decisive effects China’s military defeats had on the national consciousness cannot be underestimated – the first Sino-Japanese war incited anti-foreign sentiment, that particularly culminated in the Boxer Rebellion, in which the anti-foreign and anti-imperialist Boxers had committed numerous atrocities against the foreign population of China and following its defeat, triggered the series of reform movements to renovate the government and represented the beginnings of revolutionary activities against the Qing dynasty, which would culminate in the 1911 revolution led by Sun Yat-sen.
Secondly, the Qing dynasty’s failure to reform its military and economy were key factors for public instability in China, which would result in the 1911 revolution. China had attempted to reform its military and economy through the Self-Strengthening Movement (1861-1895) and the Hundred Day’s Reform (1898), but both failed to give China the necessary economic and military strength to resist foreign aggression in the Opium Wars and the First Sino-Japanese War. The reforms mainly failed due to the decentralized Qing government, its waning influence over its regions and the lack of support of the reforms, particularly by Empress Dowager Cixi, who was vehemently opposed to the reform movements and maintained absolute control over the Qing court. Therefore, since China lacked adequate capital, the Qing court relied heavily on selling government posts to wealthy merchants, and corruption became extremely prevalent in the Qing government. Hence, Qing officials embezzled funds from and received bribes from lower officials, and heavy taxes that were imposed on the Chinese population were used to support the corrupt government, rather than the reform movements, which sought to modernize China. The same failure to industrialize and modernize can be seen in Russian history, which ultimately also brought the Russian Empire’s downfall in 1917; in WW1, Russia’s enemy, Germany, had 10 factories for every 1 factory that the Russians had. Germany was technologically, economically and logistically superior to Russia, which lead to its defeat in WW1 and ultimately, due to the weakened state of the army, allowed the revolutionaries to depose the Tsar from power and establish the Provisional Government. In a very similar way, the Qing dynasty had suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of powers that were far more industrialized than China: Japan had undergone a significant change by 1895 through the Meiji Reforms, which overhauled its military and allowed for swift defeat against the outdated Qing armies. Qing China’s failure to reform therefore lead to great dissatisfaction in China and therefore set the grounds for the 1911 revolution.
Finally, another reason for the 1911 revolution was the fact that many overseas Chinese nationals had been educated in Western ways and were thus willing to overthrow the non-Han Qing dynasty. In 1906, after the Qing dynasty had abolished imperial examinations, the government established new schools and encouraged its people to study abroad. Japan was a popular destination for this new class of Chinese intellectuals, who contributed immensely to the Xinhai (1911) revolution. Key figures in the Xinhai revolution, such as Sun Yat-sen, Song Jiaoren, Hu Hanmin, Liao Zhongkai, Zhu Zhixin and Wang Jingwei were all students educated in Japan -  a country that had undergone massive modernization reforms under the Meiji period and was by then the pre-eminent power in East Asia. By having a new class of intellectuals educated in the Western style, the revolutionaries were able to sow widely the idea of overthrowing the Qing government, particularly through an organization called the Sanhehui, who also infiltrated the Qing military in 1908 and thus undermined the authority of the Qing rulers. This translated into revolutionary victories in the battle of Changsha in 1911, and the many following uprisings, which saw many regions declare their independence from the Qing dynasty and establish revolutionary governments. In contrast to the failure of the 1905 revolution in Russia, where there were many individual uprisings, but no intellectual elite or leaders that guided the actions of the masses, the 1911 revolution saw the coordinated effort of Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary army and its foreign intellectual elite undermine the authority of the Qing and therefore bring collapse to their power. It is therefore indisputable that a successful revolution requires successful leadership and revolutionary ideas, as said by Lenin himself: “Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolution”.
In conclusion, the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911 was not a sudden occurrence, but a decade-long decay of its authority. Its decisive defeats in the Opium Wars and the Sino-Japanese war were mostly due to a failure to reform the antiquated Chinese economy and military, which had no capability to resist Western dominance. The educated foreign Chinese intellectuals were brought up with Western ideals and therefore had took the initiative to effectively reform China, which the Qing court had failed to do for over half a millennium. 

Why was there a revolution in China in 1911?

When one examines the revolution from China in 1911, one can immediately identify the parallels with the 1917 revolutions in Russia. Both ended their monarchies as these were failing to address the needs of the many. Additionally, both caused a civil war that followed. Yet one important difference that stands out between these, otherwise hardly distinguishable, revolutions is that the Russian one was a movement of working class citizens whilst the Chinese revolution was fought primarily by peasants. Therefore, as the needs of the working class and peasants are different one must analyse what issues the Chinese peasants had that caused the 1911 revolution. These include governmental issues, foreign intervention, and widespread corruption, which had all negatively affected the life of otherwise peaceful peasants.

The government in china was no longer seen to be in control by 1911 which negatively affected peasants and warranted the need for a revolution. After all this was a so called bottom up revolution where peasants revolted against the highest castes of society toppling the Manchu dynasty. Many failures were attributed to the dynasty and these created a snowball effect becoming more and more noticeable. The 100 days’ reform of 1898 was a failed cultural, political, national, and educational reform program that the Manchu dynasty had created. It was one of the most notable and epic failures of the dynasty. The reform aimed to make lives for everyone in China better, specifically for peasants who would have greatly benefitted through the improved transport system as this would have allowed them to sell their grain and crop yields. However, these reforms were cut short by an internal Coup d’état which further caused there to be a lack of trust and faith in the leaders of China. Other issues that the dynasty had not addressed was the need to modernize. China’s infrastructure had been lacking behind and was not ever addressed properly by the leaders apart from the failed aforementioned reform which made little to no progress in addressing the needs of their people. The nationalised railroad system was backwards and the emperors failed to tackle this issue to any extent which enraged the users of the railway in addition to those who relied on it for their job-security as without a functioning train system selling crops at markets in better areas of the country was impossible. Additionally, the response to the flooding of the Yangtze river in East-China, which affected peasants through the destruction of countless tonnes of crops, shows the failure of the regime. The response of the dynasty was to not respond causing massive outrage as this flood had not only cost the lives of valuable crops but had also killed 100,000 citizens. Herewith it is evident that due to the lack of interest in peasant issues and repetitive failures to modernize, reform, and care for its citizens had created a loss of trust and faith in the current system warranting the dissolution of this system through revolution, as occurred in 1911.

Secondly a major cause of the revolution in 1911 is the involvement of foreign powers in China and the loss of sovereignty China had felt due to this. This traces back to nearly a decade before the revolution where in 1815, the Atlantic powers began smuggling opium into China causing a serious addiction issue for millions of citizens. The trade of opium was originally allowed by the leaders of China and was later unstoppable. Many who suffered under the addiction of this narcotic blamed the dynasty for this, further creating a hostile environment towards the government. A second opium influx occurred in 1842 which resulted into parts of Chinese territory given to foreign countries in order to stop the smuggling of the opioid. An example of this is the 1842 Treaty of Nanking, where the British agreed to stop the Opium War and therefore received the territory of Hong Kong. After this many other, so called, unequal treaties were signed and China became diverse with foreign embassies and stations popping up. In some cities foreign countries had more power than the dynasty did which further depreciated their reputation. The state had later sanctioned the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 that fought against the loss of sovereignty caused by the unequal treaties and occupation by foreign countries. Whilst the Boxer Rebellion had caused fear amongst foreigners, it ultimately failed and was defeated by the military cooperation of several foreign states. This showed weakness and failure of not only the Chinese people that backed the rebellion but also the government. This embarrassment made the Chinese people enraged at their leaders. Through this, one is able to identify that due to the foreign intervention nearly a century prior to the revolution there was a clear, as previously mentioned, snowball effect. All of the failures and embarrassments, including the failure of the Boxer rebellion and the loss of Chinese sovereignty, the government had caused were adding on to, what was once a snowball, and by 1911 the ball had grown powerful enough to overthrow the monarchy once and for all.

Lastly, corruption in politics was a key issue that had caused further hatred towards the dynasty and required the need for peasants to rebel. The Manchu dynasty was well known for their corruption. Whilst where ever there is bureaucracy corruption is not far, the levels of corruption in the Qing dynasty were abnormally high and affected those outside of the political scene. The corruption committed by governmental officials caused the dynasty’s members to end up in great financial struggles. Due to this debt the leaders decided to increase the tax rate nationwide. Basic economics dictates that the implementation of a tax harms the lowest classes of society. The lowest income percentiles had felt this tax most extremely. These citizens were mostly peasants who had a relatively large portion of their income struck by this new levy. These harsh taxes caused many revolts throughout all of China and looting and other illegal acts had become common. The breakdown of law and order had become inevitable. It is evident that due to the implementation of the tax due to the corruption and debt of the leaders of the country that there was a clear reason for a bottom up revolution which was first fought by those that were most affected by these taxes.

To conclude it is evident that there was need for a revolution in 1911 due to the inability of the Qing dynasty to represent their peoples. Due to the failure of the dynasty to modernise, sovereignty issues caused by foreign involvement, and widespread corruption were only a handful of reasons why the revolution happened yet it is fascinating to note that if the dynasty had paid attention to the economics of their tax plan this could have theoretically avoided as the tipping point of the revolution was the increased taxes.
Why was there a Chinese Revolution in 1911?
The Chinese revolution of 1911 (Xinhai Revolution) is usually overshadowed by the revolution of 1949, however may be said to be more important for the overall country of China. The problem with this question is that it is almost impossible to write about China in a nonbiased perspective without knowing the language and thus the culture of the country. This problem reoccurs with each non-English speaking country, however is more prominent in China and Russia due to their languages being so lexically far and more complex than English. The answer could clearly be given by stating the revolution was caused by the Chinese resentment of the foreign imperialists and the Wuchang uprising where bombs accidentally went off which awoke the other anti-Qing organizations. This, in hand with Sun Yat-Sen’s and Yuan Shikai’s cooperation and leadership. However, this revolution, which overthrew the Qing (or Manchu) Dynasty, was caused due to the weaknesses of China at the time. These being disunity, lack of freedom, and poor industrialization, which can also be expressed through Sun Yat-sen’s three principles of the people “(minzu) nationalism, (minquan) democracy, and (minsheng) livelihood of the people”.
One of the main reasons for the Chinese revolution in 1911 was disunity of the people caused by war, foreign imperialists, language, and the Qing dynasty itself. Chinas defeat to Japan in 1895 lowered moral for all of China which was already low due to the Opium war of 1842. These wars leading to the ‘unequal treaties’ just became a continuation of reducing Chinese morale, unity, and nationalism and forwarded the concept of “Chinas century of humiliation” which was created later in 1915 referring to the events between 1839 and 1949. China then being split into regions controlled by different foreign powers, did not help the peoples spirit and thus unity. This made the Chinese feel as if their country, with thousands of years of rich history and accomplishments, would turn into another version of Africa, which was at the time separated into colonies by the same countries.  This furthers the ideal that the “revolution was against the world to join the world”, as the Chinese people were not only so separated within themselves but also with the world, as the colonization of China showed to the people. The Chinese language varied in the regions of China and thus people from one area would not be able to understand others. Although this may seem unimportant, this could easily be the main reason as to why china was so divided. Without clear communication between one another, and low rates of literacy and education, the Chinese masses could not speak to one another and develop shared knowledge about their country. This later on was manipulated by rulers and could also be a reason as to why China was so easy to separate from the foreigners that were dividing china -as they did not understand them and thus didn’t see them as personified as they would if they did-. The people of China needed to be unified through nationalism which was lacking and Sun Yat-sen later tried to improve this unlike the dynasty. The dynasty also had the problem of originating in Mongolia as well as China, thus not having the same ideals and impact of nationalism as an only Chinese dynasty. The dynasty also focused on Confucian values which were limiting in freedom and thus the people of China called for democracy.
The Qing Dynasty took away many freedoms of the people and it was another cause of the revolution. The Confucian values of “the mandate of heaven”, being content with whatever one has, no oppositions to power, and respect to the hierarchy, in relation to the western world made the Chinese search for democracy and freedom. The ideals of unlimited obedience were doomed to fall apart once the people gained an understanding of human rights which resonated throughout the more educated people of China during 1911. This could be compared to the rule of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Germany at the time where he also used conservative ideals which caused society to resent his rule and resulted in his abdication. The people of China wanted an elected government such as in the 1905 Russian revolution, due to the its treatment throughout the years and the growth of westernization. There was also a lack of action from the government, causing unsuccessful reforms such as the abolishing of civil service exams. This was in order to resolve social and economic crisis, however it only fuelled the public resentment more for the Qing dynasty. This freedom of the people was also including how many people could not roam freely across the country in general as there was no great way of transportation or livelihood of the people.
Thus, the people of China wanted livelihood and this was yet another cause of the revolution in 1911. Even after the Hundred Days of Reforms (1898) in China, after seeing japan advance in their industrialization (the Meiji Restoration of 1868) made china want to modernize as well, especially the more educated Chinese people saw japan as a role model in industrialization. However, the 100 days of reforms failed with the Qing Dynasty and showed the people that there would need to be a leadership change in order to make developments. The government was also attempting to fix the loss of money and increased corruption from the Qing dynasty by instating harsh taxes. This then caused smaller revolts and people avoiding to pay the taxes. The Qing dynasty especially lost a lot of money from the Taiping Rebellion which lasted over 20 years from 1850-1871 and costed over 20 million lives, and the Second Opium War in 1865.
The Xinhai revolution caused China to end years of dynasties and traditions and ultimetly deciphered the fate of China. This revolution, caused and then resolved by the principles of the people nationalism, democracy, and livelihood of the people, created, in a way, a new China and lead to the warlord era. This revolution, having clear parallels with Russia in 1905 (Lenin to Sun Yat-sen and April thesis to principles of the people), could show the rise to communism and how certain economic and social standards may ultimately lead to it. This revolution also led to the industrialisation of China and without it, it would not be the leading country it is today.
Failure of the Xinhai Revolution
Why did the revolution of 1911 fail?

            The sudden discovery of a bomb plot in Wuhan in October 1911 that initiated the rebellion forced the abdication of the emperor and established the Republic of China, historically accentuates that the significance of the revolution lies beyond the change in form of government, as it was unclear at the time and has remained troubled and contested in the hundred years since. It is therefore important to recognize that, as the respected historian Edwin J Dingle claimed, “the story of the Great Chinese Revolution of 1911-1912 will probably be never told fully or accurately”. The nature of the question leads to the fundamental misperception that the Xinhai revolution was a failure, when it was rather that not all revolutionary aims such as economic and industrial modernization, stability and equality or the end to foreign intervention were fully achieved. One could argue that the 1911 revolution laid the groundwork for the revolution of 1949 that fully changed China in all shape and forms. Therefore, this essay will examine the aims of the revolution and assess whether these were achieved, leading to victory, or these were not achieved, leading to failure.
            The fundamental principle of the revolution was to install one central government, however the fall of the Qing dynasty left a power vacuum that was taken advantage by ruthless warlords that controlled their territories without any recognition to the nationalistic government, which simultaneously triggered the failure of the revolution and led to the Warlord Area (1916-1927). In the north of China the Beiyang Army commander Yuan Shikai emerged as the strongman of the Chinese Revolution, the only leader with enough military clout to force out the Qing. In the south, nationalists led by Sun Yixian formed a provisional government with some legitimacy but no means of enforcing it. Shikai’s control of the military gave him a pathway to the national presidency, though he had little interest in republicanism. Shikai represented more of the old regime than the new, however his command over the military held China together and allowed for the continuation of the national government. While Shikai sat in the president’s chair, provincial warlords did little to challenge his government, fearing military retaliation. The Japanese sphere of influence extended from Manchuria to other parts of China. At the beginning of the revolution, the Japanese gave a loan in forms of weapons to the Manchu government, securing their control of Manchuria and its neighboring parts. During the Warlord Era a national government continued in Beijing, however it did was not representative and exerted no national control. The Beiyang government, as it was known, presented as a civilian parliamentary government, though in reality it was a front for the dominant warlord or warlord faction in Beijing. Control of the capital was a financial bonanza for warlords. The Beiyang government, despite its illegitimacy, was still recognized by foreign powers. Especially Japanese foreign merchants continued to make massive payments for duties and import taxes, money that went to local warlords, who prioritized their greed for materialistic values over its citizens wellbeing. This revenue made Beijing and its surrounds a rich prize for competing warlord factions, who warred constantly over the capital. In 1920 the Zhili and Anhui cliques fought a brief but bloody war over Beijing, the Zhili warlords emerging victorious. In mid-1922 the Zhili faction defended Beijing from an attempted takeover by the northern Fengtian clique. The Fengtian warlords, led by Zhang Zuolin, reassembled and returned in September 1924, expelling the Zhili and seizing control of the Beiyang government. These constant struggles made the Beiyang government changeable and unstable: it had seven different heads of state and more than two dozen different ministries between 1916 and 1928. This constant quarrel over territory through the warlords increased internal disputes about Chinese governance, and further separated cities from each other, encouraging isolationism and not a national government as foreseen by the revolution. Foreign dominance over China also increased, destabilizing Chinese independence, thus a failure of the revolution.
            Another reason for the failure of Xinhai revolution could be attributed to the people’s illiteracy. China had more than 50 different languages at the collapse of the Qing dynasty. The nation did not have one single national language nor a proper educational system that could teach the proper sounds of any of the languages. Illiteracy was around 95%. There was simple to no communication between the warlords of each region and the Chinese people. Not until 1913 did the revolutionaries agree on establishing a common language, Guoyu, and Mandarin was set the provisory standard language. However, the political disunity of communist China through the authoritarian rule prevented any financial influx towards the modernization of the regional educational systems. China, for the great parts, consisted of the peasantry class, who did not fully understand yet alone were confronted with the political changes to their country. Therefore, the revolution was ineffective in 1911 as it only saw support from businessmen and intellectuals who appreciated the aims behind the revolt. The representatives of the revolution were radical students, intellectuals and anti-Manchu elites that named themselves Tongmenghui.  
            The doctrine of the revolution was found in Sun Yat Sen’s the Three Principles of The People which, one could argue, was successfully implemented by the revolution. A fundamental component of the principle was liberty and equality. Before the revolution the ethnic Manchu’s were seen as a higher class than any other ethnicity. After the revolution however all men of every native ethnic faction were regarded as equal. Similarly, the large-scale emancipation of the mind brought a series of changes to the people’s moral outlooks and habits. This stirred the extraction of old-fashioned ideas and the Chinese mentality of autocracy. The injections of new impetus and economic vitality played a profound role in improving Chinas standards at that time. The people welcomed economic development. The revolutionaries sought to improve public livelihoods and soon after the establishment of the provisional government in Nanjing, China’s economic development entered an unprecedented booming period. The modern industry in the early period of the Republic of China outperformed the industry developed by the Qing Dynasty for several decades in terms such as volume, scale and scope. This helped create significant conditions for future social and economic development. The First World War brought a great demand for China’s products, especially weapons and machinery were exported in a large quantity. This economic development, was in view of many, not possible without the revolution that set the ground stones for economic prosperity and vitality.

            To conclude, one has to recognize that although some factors may lead to the assumption that the revolution failed, the Chinese created a united nation, a great step forward in the development of Chinese history. However, at closer examination it becomes apparent that the aims of the revolution, such as central governance could not be achieved as China was yet ruled by ruthless and egoistic leaders that did not look out for individuals, but rather their own interest.  As China consisted of mostly the peasantry class, the illiteracy misguided the Chinese people to not fully participate in the revolution as it was pursued by the elitist of the Chinese community.   

Why was there a revolution in 1911?

The Chinese Dynasty and its traditions lasted for 1.7 million years and avoided contact with other nations and was largely isolated. Eventually more and more people wanted to modernize China which led to the Collapse of the Qing Dynasty. The Qing dynasty collapsed because of three main factors; foreign intervention, a lack of government action and unsuccessful policies and increased corruption which caused a significant loss of money for the Manchu dynasty. To analyze this question one must start at the end and clarify the events of 1911 and how thus caused a revolution.

Foreign Intervention played a major part why there was a revolution in 1911. For example, Britain began to illegally export opium from India to China in the 1820s. This caused widespread addiction in China resulting in social and economic disruption. In 1939 China therefore, shut down its drug trafficking racket and confiscated its dope. He arrested 1700 dealers and seized the crates of the drug already in Chinese harbors and even on ships at sea. Eventually a full scale expeditionary force of 44 British ships launched an invasion of Canton and attacked Chinese troops. They occupied Shanghai seizing tax-collection barges, strangling the Qing government finances. Finally, Qing sued for peace in 1842 which resulted in the Treaty of Nanjing which stipulated that Hong Kong would become a British territory, and that China would be forced to establish five treaty ports in which British traders could trade anything they wanted with anybody they wanted to. This led to the second Opium where the British demanded to end the ban on selling opium. Britain and China went to war again but Chinese forces were in no position to fight back. This caused the Taiping Rebellion which was a peasant uprising which was about to seize Beijing. Another factor of major disruption within the country was the ‘Open Door Policy’ in 1899 imposed by the American which allowed foreigners to freely trade with China. This let a lot of foreign influences into the country which weakend social solidarity because people wanted to modernize China more. With foreigners entering the country these people were able to help the Xinhai, such as the American Homer Lea who because Sun Yat-sen’s closest foreign advisor in 1910 and supported military ambitions. After all, this caused a lot of instability within the country and weakened the Dynasty as an authority and forced China to modernize.

The weak government also caused the revolution in 1911. On the one hand the empress Cixi was trying to modernize China by setting new apartments up to oversee the police, commerce, communications, foreign affairs, education and law. She abandoned the empirical examination system and tried to establish a new school system. New economic reforms were introduced and social evils like slavery, foot-binding and opium smoking were banned. These new policies, which were set up in 1905, seemed all very radical and futuristic for China but really were too poorly implemented. They weren’t set up to benefit the people and to act upon public interests. They were set up to benefit the ruler so he could control the people better and manage the four classes (scholars, peasants, artisans and merchants) and collect more taxes of the them.  In 1905, the court abolished the examination system, which had limited political power to elites who passed elaborate exams on Chinese classics. Faced with increasing foreign challenges, it worked to modernize its military. With its central power weakening, the court also attempted a limited decentralization of power, creating elected assemblies and increasing provincial self-government. Although the Qing court maintained a degree of control within China in these years, millions of Chinese living overseas, especially in Southeast Asia and the Americas, began pressing for either widespread reform or outright revolution. Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao emerged as leaders of those proposing the creation of a constitutional monarchy. Sun Yat-sen led the amalgam of groups that together formed the Revolutionary Alliance or Tongmenghui which eventually led to a national revolt and to an overthrow of the dynasty in 1911.

Political Corruption also caused the revolution in 1911. High ranking government officials were accepting bribes from low ranked government officials, in order for the ow ranked politicians to keep government money. Increased corruption caused a significant loss of money for the Manchu dynasty.  The government attempted to fix this by instating new, harsh taxes on their subjects, sparking revolts and leading people to find ways to avoid paying. This was just another reason to change the constitution and implement a different system which would modernize China.

Overall, there was a revolution in China because the Qing dynasty was not able to adapt with all the changes happening around them. Foreign intervention, the weakness of the government and increased corruption were major issues affecting the rulers of China. But the biggest factor was the influence of foreigners which brought different thinkers, different systems and deals into the country which led to a revolution.

After the revolution in 1911 Sun Yat-sen took power of China, and declared his three principles of Mínzu (nationalism), Mínquán (democracy) and Mínshēng (livelihood). It was these principles which led to Sun Yat-sen’s great successes as the leader, which led to him being declared as the ‘Father of the nation’ in the Republic of China. This essay will argue that while his idea of removing western imperialists from China showed the tension against foreigners during this period, which fuelled the Xinhai revolution, it was mostly due to failures of the Qing government that the revolution took place.

Sun Yat-sen’s principle of Mínzu mirrored an attitude held for thousands of years by the Chinese monarchy, which had taken the stance of independence and isolation. This was ended by the 1842 opium war, which was imposed onto the Chinese by the British as a means to fund colonialism in India. This exploitation of the Chinese workforce led to low levels of productivity, and crippled the Chinese economy. Land had been carved up between Germany, France, England, Russia and Portugal, including key economic regions of China, such as the ports of Qingdao and Hong Kong, saw all profits leaving China at the hands of these foreign imperialists. These marked key moments in what Mao Tse-Tung would later refer to as ‘the century of humiliation’. Such humiliation, and weakening of the Chinese economy was the key reason for the Boxer uprising of 1900, in which foreign nationals were brutally attacked by so-called Boxers. This led to a series of ‘Unequal treaties’, which took further land away from China, and into the hands of foreign colonisers. This could, however, have been the result of the superiority over other nations the Qing government had held for a long time, and the fact that they were unwilling to be a part of any treaties led to them being forced to join such unequal ones. This idea of superiority is shown by a statement made by the emperor that China would not trade with ‘Barbarians’, which shows the negative view China had towards outside intervention up until it was forced upon them during the Opium war. Overall, the negative view toward foreign imperialists was a key reason for tension in China in the lead up to the 1911 Xinhai revolution.

However, while this is argued as the key reason by many historians, it ignores the impacts of the many failures of the Qing government which also led in great part to the revolution. An example of this were the many unsuccessful reforms put in place, for example the civil service exams. These were exams undertaken to employ people into positions of bureaucracy, however they mostly focused on of classics and literary style, rather than political expertise. This led to many people with very little knowledge of government taking positions of power, thus weakening the Qing government significantly. Another issue with the Qing government was the corruption which played a major role among politicians. In order to raise funds, the Manchu dynasty imposed very harsh taxes on their subjects, these were naturally very unpopular, and many people avoided them, there were even significant revolts against them. This led to a massive loss of funds for the government, and meant that they were unable to modernise at a significant rate. This included the transportation system, which had gone without significant reforms in a very long time. These significant failures by the government led to a lot of distrust in the Manchu dynasty, and led, to a significant degree, to the revolution which occurred in 1911

Overall, while the role of imperialist powers in China played a key role in tensions which led to the 1911 revolution, a complete focus on them ignores the significant impact of the many failed policies introduced by the Qing government, which led to great distrust in the government and was a key reason for its fall.

The Xinhai Revolution also known as the Chinese revolution of 1911, was a revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty and established the republic of China. The revolution consisted of many revolts and uprisings. The revolution ended with the abdication of the six-year-old Puyi on February 12, 1912, that marked the end of 2,000 years of imperial rule and the beginning of China’s early republican era. The revolution arose mainly in response to the decline of the Qing state, which had proven ineffective in its efforts to modernize China and confront foreign aggression. This essay will argue that due to the lack of capable Manchu leaders and without and able emperor to supervise the officials, political power could no longer be centralized causing the downfall of the Qing dynasty.
            In the Qing dynasty, the Qing emperor held absolute power, this meant that the administration in Beijing was efficient. However, in the 19th century, the power of the emperor was questioned by the Taiping Rebellion. In response to this rebellion, the Qing court permitted the creation of the regional armies in an attempt to surpass rebellions, especially because the traditional Eight-Banner forces became weak and useless over the years. Due to the weakness of the Qing ruler, he was not capable of sustaining political power of his officials. As the strength of the armies grew, the power of the provincial officials simultaneously grew which subsequently surpassed the power of the Qing ruler. Since the Qing ruler had little control over the regional armies, it meant that he no longer had a strong military support at his command. This resulted in the success of the Wuchang Uprising and thus, the success of the Xinhai Revolution. This is comparable to that of Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, had neither the qualities or the desire to rule imperial Russia. He was a weak tsar. Like the Qing ruler, Nicholas also had a lack of control of his armies. Confronted with some glaring warning signs in 1905 – a humiliating military defeat, a frozen economy, political violence and an outraged people, Nicholas ignored them all, promising reform but doing so with no sincerity. When signing the April 1906 Fundamental Laws, he might as well have signed his own death warrant. He could not have been less like his father, he was short, shy and was considered hardly intimidating. His incapability to rule Russia with an iron fist led to his downfall in 1917. Therefore, it was the inexperience and lack of authority that led to the revolution of 1911.
            However, one must consider that China at the time has 400 million people, equating to a huge potential market. This was drastically realized by the West who thus pressurized China to open up trade with the West. Chinese ignorance and pride in self-sufficiency led to the decision that they did not want to be dependent on trade. This meant that the Western powers remained discontented and forced the Manchu rulers to sign unequal treaties in 1842 dictating control of Hong Kong and Shanghai by British as well as others parts of China by Russians, French and Germans. Such imperial rule provoked a rising discontent against the foreigners which lead to the Boxer Rebellion where 200 foreigners were killed. This presented an excuse for the foreign powers to station troops in Beijing and 11 other major cities. They demanded huge sums of compensation. The intervention of Chinese politics by the Western powers was regarded as a massive humiliation on the Chinese behalf. This depicted the Manchu rulers as puppets of the Western powers. It was the incompetency of the rulers that resulted in the terms sates in the unfair treaties, leasing to the Boxer rebellion, that thus brought about a huge economic loss and political humiliation for the Qing dynasty. Accordingly, the results of the Qing dynasty losing their reputation and political power, the anger and humiliation suffered by the people of China was directed towards the government.
            In retrospect, one must consider the reforms in the Late-Qing period such as the Self-Strengthening Movement as a component of the revolution in 1911. These Qing reforms were originally directed at modernizing China to advancement in industry, economies and military strength.  Yet the Qing court opposed to the idea of reform movements. This caused a lack of adequate capital to conduct the reforms and the Qing court as time progressed, became increasingly dependent on the sale of government posts to thus enlarge its income. This caused corruption to be extremely prevalent throughout the government. The heavy taxes imposed on the people were used to support the corrupt government instead of directing it to the reform movement. In is clear that without capitol, one can only conclude that the reforms are rendered to be useless. Therefore, the failure of the reforms was an indication that the Qing government was a corrupt power-hungry movement, adhering to their self-interests as appose to the interests of the people of China. In turn, this was enough for the people of China to revolutionize and overthrow the Qing dynasty so that China can modernize.
            In conclusion, it was the lack of authority and inability to modernize China that lead to the Xinhai revolution of 1911. Despite of the presence of Western powers and their humiliation of the Chinese government, a stronger dynasty would have been able to hold off the influence of the West and thus sustained power and minimize internal corruption